Summary: As we examine Paul’s conversion story we can find a simple outline that will help us as we bear witness to others. You ought to write this outline down: 1. My life before I met Christ. 2. How I came to know Christ. 3. The difference Christ has made in
THE ANATOMY OF CONVERSION
One of the most effective witness that we can give is that of our own personal experience with Jesus Christ. After all that’s what witnessing is all about. The Apostle Paul often used his own conversion experience to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others. Paul’s conversion is recorded in Acts chapter 9. In Acts 22 and in Acts 26 he used his conversion as a witness to powerful leaders.
Actually witnessing is not as complicated as we sometimes make it out to be. As we examine Paul’s conversion story we can find a simple outline that will help us as we bear witness to others. You ought to write this outline down:
1. My life before I met Christ.
2. How I came to know Christ.
3. The difference Christ has made in my life.
While our conversion will have many different aspects, these three elements will be evident in every story. Your story and mine will be different in several ways, but there will be similarities. As we think of the theme, “Anatomy of Conversion,” let’s examine the elements of Paul’s conversion and compare them with our own.
I. PRE-CONVERSION: MY LIFE BEFORE MEETING CHRIST (26:4-12)
Paul was on trial for preaching Christ. In this chapter he is standing before King Agrippa and is given the opportunity to present his defense. As he present’s his case to Agrippa he tells of his life before he met Christ.
A. Who he was before he met Christ: He was a Pharisee (4-8). “I lived a Pharisee.” This meant he was a very devout and zealous religious person, but He was lost. Remember Nicodemus. Nicodemus was also a Pharisee as well as a master theologian, yet Jesus said that he needed to be “born again.” Likewise, Paul was very devout, yet he also needed Jesus in his life..
B. What He did before he met Christ: He was a persecutor of Christians (9-12). Paul did not think he was doing wrong when he had Christians arrested and thrown in jail. He actually thought he was doing God a service by getting rid of Christians.
What was your life before meeting Christ? In my own life, I do not remember being hostile towards Christianity. In fact, I do not remember not loving Jesus as a child. I loved to go to church as well. I just remember that around 9 years of age while attending VBS, I began realizing that there was an emptiness in my life and that I needed Jesus. That’s all that I can remember of my life before meeting Jesus in a personal way. That brings us to the second element in a conversion story.
II. CONVERSION: HOW I CAME TO KNOW CHRIST (26:13-18)
A few months after my 10th birthday, April 19, 1953, I went home after church and talked to my mother. I told her that I wanted to become a Christian. That afternoon I walked to my pastor’s study at 1st Union and he led me to Christ. I was baptized that same very Sunday evening.
Again, your conversion and mine will have both similarities and differences. None of us are converted in exactly the same way. Each experience is different. Some, like Lydia was converted in a quiet way. Other’s like the Philippian Jailor had a rather dramatic experience. Paul’s story was very dramatic. My conversion experience was not very dramatic at all, but it was my experience with Jesus Christ and that‘s what is important..
A. His Conversion: In Acts 22, Paul’s emphasis was more on his conversion experience itself. He briefly describes his experience on the Damascus Road. “I saw a light.” The light he saw was the glory of God shining from the heavens. He had been in spiritual darkness up until then.
“I heard a voice.” He had heard the voices of the prophets through the OT scriptures. That day he heard the voice of the Son of God.
Listen to what the Son of God said to Him in verse 14. “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” The King James says “Kick against the pricks.” This refers to the stick farmers used to prod their cattle or oxen. Often the cattle would kick back to their own harm. I can just see my grandmother Lay prodding her oxen as she plowed her field. She took care of her oxen to the day she died.
Jesus was comparing Paul to a stubborn animal that would not obey. What goads did God use to bring Paul to Christ? 1. Was it the death of Stephen, 2. the godly conduct of the saints that he had persecuted must have touched him, 3. Or was it the OT Scriptures speaking to his heart with new conviction. Though Paul was saved on the Damascus Road, God used different means to bring Paul to repentance, just as He does today.